When Donovan Bering first saw Jodi Arias walked through the door, she thought the inmate was a model – not a murderer.
Arias’ former cellmate is speaking out in an enhanced encore airing of Lifetime’s true-crime documentary “Cellmate Secrets: Jodi Arias,” which promises to share new, disturbing information surrounding the case of Travis Alexander, as well as bombshell theories about the gruesome slaying.
The network has been airing a docuseries narrated by Angie Harmon titled “Cellmate Secrets,” which explores famous true-crime cases from the perspective of former friends, prison guards, cellmates and lovers.
“I just thought she was trying to get information on people,” Bering recalled to Fox News about meeting Arias in 2008. “She just looked like a model. She was beautiful. She was very quiet. We had no idea she was being accused of murder.”
Jodi Arias (L) and her attorney Jennifer Willmott (R) look back during sentencing hearing in Maricopa County Superior Courtroom in Phoenix, Arizona April 13, 2015. (REUTERS/Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic/Pool)
The women were booked into Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Ariz. Bering was there on suspicion of being an accessory to arson, Oxygen.com reported. As for Arias, she had been jailed on a first-degree murder charge for the killing of her boyfriend.
Arias was accused of stabbing and slashing Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head in his suburban Phoenix home in June 2008. The then-32-year-old initially denied any involvement, then later blamed it on masked intruders before eventually settling on self-defense.
Arias claimed Alexander invited her to his home for a day of sex, then turned violent, forcing her to fight for her life. Prosecutors said she killed him in a jealous rage.
A photograph of Travis Alexander appears on a computer monitor in front of defense attorney Kirk Nurmi as Alexander’s family speaks to the jury during the sentencing phase retrial of Jodi Arias at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool)
Bering said that she, along with her now-wife Tracy Brown Bering, who was also at Estrella Jail on a kidnapping charge, immediately bonded with Arias. She appeared as a sweet cellmate with “the voice of an angel” who yearned to make friends.
“It was kind of strange, we just pulled to each other,” said Bering. “She was this very quiet, soft-spoken, articulate artist who drew a lot. She was very easy to talk to and she made you feel comfortable quickly. I mean, I was floored. We all were. We had absolutely no idea she was being accused of murder. When she finally told us, I was just in shock because I just had no idea.”
While the women described Arias as “a flirt” in the documentary, Bering claimed they never had a romantic or sexual relationship.
“She used her sexuality to get things from other inmates,” Bering alleged. “She flirted with the guards. She was very sexual. She had no problems talking to the male guards at all. But we just became good friends.”
Donovan Bering and Tracy Brown Bering spoke out on Lifetime’s ‘Cellmate Secrets.’ (Lifetime)
The women became so close, Bering said, that she and Tracy even allowed Arias to tattoo them. Arias gave Tracy six tattoos using a rubber band, a staple and a pencil, along with a drop of shampoo and baby powder, Oxygen.com reported. Bering said Arias gave her four tattoos.
“My wife encouraged her because she was such a great artist,” said Bering. “She called me her tattoo board.”
Bering said she and Tracy had no idea of the media spectacle that surrounded Arias.
According to Arias, she met Alexander at a Las Vegas convention in late 2006 after years of bad relationships, working multiple jobs and struggling to pay bills. Arias was enamored by the charismatic businessman and motivational speaker who later opened up to her about his Mormon faith. While Arias was previously involved in relationships that she said were plagued with infidelity and abuse, Alexander was different. For once, she felt both her personal and professional life were looking bright.
Jodi Arias appearing for her trial in Maricopa County Superior court in Phoenix, on Jan. 9, 2013. (AP)
Arias said she soon ended her relationship with another man and within a week, she saw Alexander again. She testified that’s when things became sexual.
“I didn’t want to tell him no so I just kept going with it,” said Arias. “At that point in time, I was not really accustomed to saying no.”
Bering said Arias was drawn to both her and Tracy because they didn’t dig into her private life and they weren’t judgmental.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys depicted Alexander as a liar and a cheater who belittled Arias, calling her derogatory names. They claimed he told her and other girlfriends he was a devout Mormon saving sex for marriage, while in reality, he was having intercourse with other women. Arias claimed they dated for about five months but then broke up. However, they continued to see each other for sex.
Donovan Bering said she had no idea not to believe soft-spoken Jodi Arias. (A2013)
Bering said they had no reason not to believe Arias. In fact, when Bering was freed, she was willing to do some social media work for Arias.
“I did it because I felt she needed help,” Bering explained. “She wanted things posted. She wanted to keep her social media sites up. She wanted her work shown, she wanted to show people what she was reading. So I helped her make those posts. She would send the information and talk to me on the phone and I would post it exactly how she wanted it. I did it because I supported her at the time and it kept me busy. She would have called me all day long if she could just to get things out there.”
However, Bering said her feelings for Arias changed after she spoke out against her parents. Arias claimed her parents abused her starting at the age of seven, the New York Daily News reported. Bering alleged Arias was cruel to her parents.
Audiences were shocked to hear about the stormy, sexual relationship Jodi Arias and her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander shared before his 2008 murder. (Reuters)
“The way she spoke to her mother, she would always scream and holler and hang up the phone and say horrible things,” Bering alleged. “If she got mad, she wanted horrible things to be posted [on social media], just things that were destructive and hurtful. I realized she was not this person that I thought she was. She had a lot of hate.”
“I remember there was a time I refused to post some very horrible things about her family,” Bering alleged. “I told her I would no longer [post] if she continued to behave like that. I thought it was horrible. It was uncalled for. She got really mad and she said some pretty horrible things. She tried to lash out at me and have people she knew attack me and my family. It made me feel really bad. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t understand it. I was floored to see that come out of her.”
According to Alexander’s friends, Arias stalked him after their breakup, becoming possessive and jealous. Arias said she lied early in the investigation about not being at the scene of the killing because she planned to commit suicide.
This undated booking photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Jodi Arias. A judge sentenced Arias, a convicted murderer, to life in prison without the possibility of release, ending a nearly seven-year-old case that attracted worldwide attention with its salacious details. (Arizona Department of Corrections via AP)
Authorities said they found her hair and bloody palm print at the crime scene, along with time-stamped photographs on a memory card in a camera discovered inside Alexander’s washing machine that placed Arias there on the day he died. According to prosecutors, Arias violently attacked Alexander after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Investigators also revealed Alexander was shot in the head with a .25 caliber gun, the same caliber Arias’ grandparents reported stolen from their Northern California home about a week before the killing.
Lifetime’s docuseries ‘Cellmates Secrets’ is narrated by Angie Harmon. (Lifetime)
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced in 2015 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bering said they haven’t spoken “in years.”
“I can hold my head up high now because I was able to tell the truth,” said Bering. “She had a completely different side to her that I didn’t expect.”
The enhanced encore of “Cellmate Secrets: Jodi Arias” will air on Friday, July 2 at 10 p.m. ET following the enhanced edition of the original Lifetime movie “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” at 8 p.m. ET. The Associated Press contributed to this report.